T.S. Montgomery was a well-known businessman in San Jose at the beginning of the 20th century. He was the most powerful man in town in his days and influences the towns’ appearance in many ways. One of his most popular projects is the Hotel Montgomery in downtown San Jose. But he also built many other buildings and influenced the town in many other ways.
Montgomery was not only the leading real estate developer, but he was also the director of both competing railroads: the Southern Pacific and the Western Pacific. Moreover he was Chairman of the Board of the powerful California Prune and Apricot Growers, Inc. Because of all his activities he was not only a very rich, but also a very powerful man.
He practically owned the San Carlos Street in San Jose and constantly tried to keep the heart of local business on his street. His competitors were located on the Santa Clara Street and were trying to build newer and bigger buildings than him all the time. This fight was a big help in developing the city. Montgomery convinced the city of San Jose for example to locate its convention center on San Carlos Street in 1930. The city was also won over by various donations of money, land and materials from Montgomery’s side.
Being aggressive and very territorial Montgomery was able to build his own empire in San Jose. A good example of his aggressive business manner is the Hotel Montgomery. It was built in 1911 and has since then been one of the finest hotels in town. A huge portrait of himself, hang in the lobby of the hotel until the 1980s. Afterwards it disappeared and has not shown up until today. The hotel was designed by the local architect William Binder. The original building had 142 rooms, a ballroom, a restaurant and two dinning rooms. The prices for one night at the hotel have always been higher than in any other hotel in town. Montgomery considered it to be the best hotel in town otherwise he would not have lent his name to it.
Until today one can see Montgomery’s influence on the town. Most people still know his name and San Carlos Street is still considered to be his street.